Cubs fans are finally getting their wish, as the team announced that first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is on his way to Chicago after destroying Triple-A pitching for the second straight season.
Rizzo struggled in his first taste of the big leagues last year for the Padres and was then traded to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner in January.
He hit .345 with 23 homers, 18 doubles, and a 1.110 OPS in 69 games at Triple-A after hitting .331 with 26 homers, 34 doubles, and a 1.056 OPS in 93 games there last year. Add it all up and Rizzo played 162 games at Triple-A, hitting .337 with 49 homers, 52 doubles, and a 1.078 OPS.
His call-up means that first baseman Bryan LaHair will shift to the outfield full time, which the Cubs prepared for by giving him three starts in right field during the past week.
Rizzo’s horrible debut for San Diego last year has some people skeptical about his ability to become a star-caliber hitter in the majors, but at 22 years old with incredible numbers at Triple-A it would certainly be shocking if he failed to become at least a very, very good hitter.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.